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Inspired by the Pro’s, How to book Polo Lessons
So, after some time watching the pros gallop up and down the pitches at tournaments, a blur of team colours as they hurtle past on their sweating, snorting and truly awesome mounts, you’ve taken the plunge and decided to have a go yourself. Way to go!
You’re definitely overcome with excitement, but perhaps a little nervous too. Fortunately, this article features a first-hand account of someone who was lucky enough to have polo lessons at the Club quite recently, so once you’ve finished reading, you’ll know exactly what to expect from yours.
Having played polo at university level at other polo clubs in Warwickshire for four years, it’s a little surprising I hadn’t branched out to Dallas before- but I’m very glad I did. The Club itself is a very impressive place to visit, even a little daunting, perhaps- everywhere is clean, tidy and, for a place that gets a lot of equine traffic to and from the field and stables, the grass areas are impeccably kept.
Everywhere is professional, but not clinical – anyone, even first-timers, will find a very warm welcome from the polo staff.
Here’s a few things to know, so you can banish any pre-lesson nerves and get the most of out of your hour (or half day, if you were keen).
What to expect from your polo lessons
Firstly, the facts: – Polo lessons are taught by the Club’s experienced polo manager, Huw. – You don’t need to have your own horse to learn to play polo, or have ever had a riding lesson before. The Club have a number of school ponies available for you to learn on, suitable for all abilities.
Lessons are available for groups or private one-to-one lessons. polo lessons can be booked all year round- in the summer months, you’ll get to play on one of the Club’s many luscious, immaculately kept pitches, and in the winter, there’s a gigantic walled arena to enjoy. And this is the most important one of all: if you’ve never played before, prepare to get bitten by the polo bug- hard! Not literally, of course. Just be prepared to watch your savings slowly dwindle – polo is a fast-paced, competitive sport that is exhilarating to watch, and out of this world to play. So don’t be surprised if you find yourself booking your next polo lessons as soon as you’ve dismounted!
Your first polo lesson has arrived
The Big Day After you’ve booked the lesson, if you have any questions, Huw will be more than happy to answer them. For things like what to wear and how to get to the Club, the website pages are also very informative.
Passing through the gated entrance, you’ll be greeted by bright green polo pitches stretching away to either side of the track, encircled by pure white picket fences. The Club is big – 600 acres in fact- but very clearly signposted, so you’ll be able to meander your way through the grounds to the stables without too much trouble.
The stable block is situated behind the Club’s sizeable, oval-shaped arena. If you have any friends with you who aren’t going to be playing, drop them off at the onsite bar and lounge, the Millstone Hare, on your way past. From there, they have an excellent view of the arena (if you’re going to be playing there, of course) and an even better proximity to the bar.
Heading over to the stables, you’ll be greeted with the soft, comforting smell of horses – you’ll probably hear a few by this point too! Stables generally tend to be a hub of activity, no matter where they are or what time of day it is. When I arrived, they were busy with a farrier visit, which is always fascinating to watch. I wasn’t quite sure where I was going, but the stable-hands who saw me were very friendly, and directed me to where I needed to go.
Polo lessons are for all abilities
The lovely manager, Huw, greeted me and, after a brief chat about my experience and skill level, started to bring out the horses. Normally the stable manager will choose your horse for you – they know all the horses and their characters well, so will be able to pick a good fit.
After giving me a mallet and letting me warm up my pony (and myself- it was pretty chilly, but you always warm up quickly once you start riding) Huw asked me what I wanted to work on. I’ve played for a while, so we didn’t start at the very beginning, but I hadn’t played much in the last few months so knew I would be rusty.
To begin with, he let me stick and ball (riding by yourself, tapping the ball with your mallet, practicing whatever shots you like) so that he could assess my style before giving me any tips. You know you’re in good hands with a teacher like this.
There was no expectation for me to be at a certain level because I had played before, and the advice Huw gave me came from watching me specifically, rather than theories regurgitated from a textbook. His tips helped me address some of my worst habits, in fact – ones that I’ve struggled with since my beginner year.
In just an hour, I could feel improvements in my technique that I had been trying to get for years. All in all, it was thoroughly enjoyable to be back on a horse after several months of drought – and I will certainly be going back.
After the lesson I met more Club members – all of whom were as welcoming as the others. There’s no doubt that even someone completely new to polo, and new to riding in general, would be comfortable there, and enjoy Huw’s lessons.
Tips for your first polo lesson experience
For the complete beginner, my advice is two-fold: even if it’s winter and very cold, wear zipped jumpers, so you can take them off as you warm up once the polo lesson starts without taking your helmet off.
Secondly, try to set aside some time before and after you ride, to stretch your legs and arms: riding a pony is hard work, more so than many people realise, and you spend most of your time gripping with your legs. Expect to find your inner thighs a little stiff for a day or two afterwards!
It’s worth it though – even a 1 on 1 lesson with Huw (which is basically technique-led, rather than playing practice chukkas) will be incredibly fun, and you will find that it flies by before you know it.
If you’ve booked polo lessons already, hopefully you can’t wait. If you haven’t….what are you waiting for Tel: 01926811111?